It's pretty rare that a band comes to town in June and then returns in September (that is unless they are a local mainstay). Lucky for the DC region, Bright Eyes did just that this year, playing a perfect summer night at Wolf Trap in June and a sold out, jam-packed 930 club last weekend. And because I have a standing buy order for Bright Eyes whenever they're in the neighborhood, soundproof got to attend both shows.
The stars certainly aligned for the June BE show - it was a Saturday, the temperature barely deviated from 70 degrees, no humidity to speak of and an opening band the we simply love (see words of adoration here). And let's face it, the crowd at a Wolf Trap show is just better. Maybe it's the fresh air; maybe it's the family-friendly vibe; maybe it's the fact that concert-goers have to drive and don't get absolutely hammered before the show even starts. I won't speculate but I will say that the confluence of all these elements made it feel like a magical night right off the bat. Dawes didn't disappoint one bit, with leader Taylor Goldsmith in good form, per usual. The DC lover affair with M. Ward baffles me a bit, but his musical stylings on this night in particular weren't unpleasing to the ears, just not the highlight. And Bright Eyes. I saw them five years ago right before band engineer Conor Oberst took a leave to Mexico to form his Mystic Valley Band. Back then Conor wasn't much more than a shadow on stage, hiding behind his guitar and solo cup full of whiskey, making the occasion quip about corrupted politics. Today, he's a full-on band leader, engaging the crowd, twirling on-stage without a care in the world. It was almost like he was enjoying himself up there - you know, unironically even. Their stage setup was very elaborate, with a giant light board and light-sabered mic stands, all making the band look like a festival headlining act. The setlist was solid too, but the gem was hearing Lua with Conor solo on stage, save the spotlit trumpeteer bellowing out the solo. Altogether, this show was one of the best of the year to date.
Fast-forward to September - same story different channel. The 930 Club is by far a more intimate venue to see a band if only for the fact you're going to be stood on top of by late comers trying to push their way in. The openers were again fantastic, First Aid Kit from Sweden. Those two young women can sing, period. And Conor was again in very agreeable mood, high-fiving the crowd, again twirling around the stage care-free. The experience would've been a nice complement to the wolf trap show if not for the irresponsible parents who during First Day of My Life (at probably 1030 PM) nudged their way in front of us and sat their small CHILDREN on ledge at the bar, obstructing our view. Really?
All-tolled, a great set of shows. See the side-by-side scorecard and setlist below.
|930 Club||Wolf Trap|
|Another Travelin' Song||Firewall|
|Old Soul Song (For The New World Order)||Haile Selassie|
|Four Winds||Take It Easy (Love Nothing)|
|Bowl of Oranges||Jejune Stars|
|Hot Knives||Four Winds|
|Take It Easy (Love Nothing)||Bowl of Oranges|
|Jejune Stars||Trees Get Wheeled Away|
|Landlocked Blues||Approximate Sunlight|
|Lover I Don't Have to Love||Lua|
|Shell Games||Shell Games|
|Arc of Time (Time Code)||Falling Out of Love at This Volume|
|Cartoon Blues||Arc of Time (Time Code)|
|No One Would Riot For Less||Cartoon Blues|
|First Day of My Life||Smoke Without Fire|
|Wrecking Ball||Hot Knives|
|I Believe In Symmetry||Poison Oak|
|The Calendar Hung Itself||The Calendar Hung Itself|
|Ladder Song||Ladder Song|
|Let's Not Shit Ourselves (To Love and to Be Loved)||Lover I Don't Have to Love|
|Road to Joy||Road to Joy|
|One For You, One For Me||One For You, One For Me|